Is Depression Affecting Your Diabetes Care?
Depression is more common among people who have diabetes than it is in the
general population. It’s no secret why this is so. When you find out you have
diabetes, you experience a sense of loss. Your life can no longer be the way it
was, eating without thinking about it so much, going about your day without
having to worry about testing your blood sugar, taking medications, maybe even
taking insulin. It’s normal to feel a sense of grief for an easier way of life
you know you can no longer have.
That’s why depression is most common at the time of diagnosis and shortly
afterwards. It’s overwhelming and stressful to think of all the changes you have
to make now. Many people get past this period of depression by learning how to
shift their focus. They learn to think about all the things in their lives that
are worth living for, and usually they think of taking care of themselves as a
way to keep on enjoying life.
But sometimes, it’s not possible to get through the depression on your own. Your
feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and maybe even anger, weigh you down so
much that you don’t want to make the effort to care for yourself as well as you
should. Maybe your spouse or partner is noticing that you’re not yourself and is
trying to get you to eat well, get exercise and get out of your “funk.” All of
these things are signs that it might be time to talk to your doctor
It is normal to get frustrated and feel blue from time to time. However, be
aware of these signs that may indicate that your depression has gone too far for
you to handle it on your own:
- A feeling of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Lack of motivation to take care of your diabetes
- Changes in sleep habits: sleeping more than usual, or having difficulty
- Trouble concentrating or feeling unable to cope
- Feeling nervous, irritable or constantly worried
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
Remember, it’s important not to get “stuck” when it comes to meeting your
treatment goals. Not taking care of yourself can lead to complications, so if
depression is getting in your way, it’s time to do something about it.
If you think you or a loved one may be depressed, talk to your healthcare
provider about it. The sooner depression is treated, the sooner you will start
feeling better, and be more able to manage your diabetes. Generally, with proper
monitoring, people with diabetes can safely take antidepressant medications, if
necessary, which have helped thousands of people. In addition, consider the
following to keep your physical and emotional health at their best:
- Work with a healthcare team that you like and trust. A good healthcare
relationship is one in which you feel comfortable asking questions, and your
needs and concerns are addressed.
- Join a support group for people with diabetes. It’s helpful to share
challenges and frustrations with others.
- Learn as much as you can about diabetes and its treatment.
To get some perspective, think of the people in your life, your interests and
hobbies, all the things you enjoy. They’re all still there. Remember the things
that you love, and maybe the diabetes can take its place in your life as
something you need to manage, but not something that takes over your life.
American Diabetes Association; Diabetes Care; National Institute of
Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders.